As genetic screening technologies continue being developed and offered at ever cheaper prices, members of the general public are growing increasingly curious about what lies hidden in their DNA. While many have elected to sample their genome out of pure curiosity and to get better insight into their family history, the resultant data could often hint at serious risks to health and wellbeing. Wellness By Science is a new company that has focused on improving people’s lifestyle and eating habits by first testing their DNA for obesity- and diabetes-related markers. Medgadget recently had a chance to chat with founder and CEO, Harry Blustein III.
Mohammad Saleh, Medgadget: Can you tell us about your background and how you came to be a part of this effort?
Harry Blustein III, Wellness by Science: I’m an entrepreneur and I had an opportunity to make an investment in a molecular lab and to learn a little bit about DNA testing. When I learned about the opportunities that DNA testing has for wellness, I founded Wellness by Science – exclusively for DNA testing. However, about a year ago, I realized that there was a much better use for this technology in targeting specific illnesses. I realized that three tests that we designed would quite specifically target Type 2 Diabetes for reversal. I took what I had learned from the lab around genetic variances and brought it to where we’re at today at Wellness by Science, where we focus on Type 2 Diabetes and obesity.
Medgadget: Why the focus on obesity and Type 2 Diabetes?
Blustein: At the lab that I invested in, the DNA test that was personally most interesting was for genetic profiling of obesity-related genes – things like fat absorption or carbohydrate metabolism genes. I am also personally conscious about not being obese or overweight. I have a brother who is overweight and it’s a battle for him. So, I took a personal interest in that particular test as it could be extremely helpful in battling obesity. If you know your DNA make-up and that you’re predisposed, it’s an empowering tool to be able to address obesity.
Medgadget: Give our readers an overview on what Wellness by Science is and how you’re working towards your mission.
Blustein: Wellness by Science is a private company founded in Singapore last year. We’re focused on the reversal of Type 2 Diabetes through providing DNA testing on a global basis. We use a GSA chip that gathers 600,000 points of data.
But we’re not just selling a DNA test, that’s just where everything starts. We provide a full reversal plan for Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. It’s really important for us to get patients that are already on medication for type 2 diabetes off of them. We’re not prescribing medicine – it’s a lifestyle change, but it’s ultimately one in which you can improve quality of life.
Our plans start with a DNA test. Then based on your results, you would receive a FitBit tracker, a FitBit smart-scale, and a nutritional and physiological plan tailored designed with your DNA results in mind.
Medgadget: Is the resultant data looked at by intelligent algorithms or by human specialists?
Blustein: Right now, it’s all human. But as the plans evolve and we have more folks in the database, there will be AI algorithms introduced that will produce further nutritional and physiological insight.
Medgadget: Tell us about the GSA chips you’re using.
Blustein: It’s a chip provided by Illumina Technologies. It’s the same chip that 23&Me and Ancestry and all the industry leaders are using. We do collect all of the data. However, we’re only running the variances that we’re looking at for our initial report, which are specifically for obesity, type 2 diabetes, food type, and physiological type. The additional information is reserved for fine-tuning of the clients’ plans in the future. If the results that we’re seeing are not aligning with our goals, we can then go in and look at the additional information to try to better fine-tune the client’s plan.
Medgadget: How does Wellness by Science help their clients create habits that lead to lifestyle changes based on their genomic data?
Blustein: It’s a very proactive plan. Once an individual receives their DNA make-up, they start paying a little more attention to what is good or bad for them. They’re no longer basing their decisions on something that they heard while they were growing up or something of that nature. Now you’re empowering someone with genetic information, which is something that we tend to pay attention to, according to studies. Initially, we’re empowering them with the results of their DNA make-up. Then we’re tracking their activities and their nutritional intake. We’re also being proactive about it – if their tracker has no activity for 72 hours, we notify them in their preferred method so they can learn what the issue is.
Medgadget: Many of our readers probably remember 23&Me running into regulation problems with the FDA a few years ago. How does FDA regulation apply to the Wellness by Science platform, if at all?
Blustein: Due to the way that we’re reporting our results, we’re not allowing clients to interpret the raw data and the variances that we are looking at. What happened was 23&Me had provided raw data to the clients, and the client was taking up an assumption upon themselves. For example, if they were predisposed to something, many thought they were guaranteed to get it. We are taking client data, we’re interpreting it, and we’re providing an actionable report.
Medgadget: Can you share any real-life examples of the impact your platform has had on your clients’ lives?
Blustein: We’ve only launched recently, so with regards to reversal of type 2 diabetes and obesity using this particular platform, I don’t have any testimonials to share with you at the moment. Although, individuals that are on our team have all reversed diabetes in their own ways, and these protocols have been put together for Wellness by Science, and they’re part of what we’re offering.
Medgadget: Are you currently targeting people who are already obese/already have type 2 diabetes, or are you also targeting the general population as a preventative measure?
Blustein: We are currently targeting folks that are already diagnosed. However, we’re not going to turn anyone away.
Medgadget: Do you have plans to take on other diseases?
Blustein: Yes, I’d like to feel that we brought about a highway to be able to address multiple genetic-based illnesses in the future. I’d like to be able to prove our methodology and platform with this particular disease, and then move on from there. We’re currently very focused on Type 2 Diabetes and obesity, though.
Medgadget: Where do you see genomics-based personalized medicine in 10 years?
Blustein: I see it going a step further into methylation and epigenetics – being able to know the exact extent as to where or how far along a particular gene is affected by our behaviour in order to really specifically target it. This would include a better understanding of what sorts of cues lead to a given set of changes to our genes.
For more information, visit the Wellness By Science website.